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English Language - Travel Writing - (Corsica trip)

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La Corse - I Could Feel The Country Corseing Through My Veins The immense heat hit me like a wall as I stepped out of the cool, air-conditioned interior of Thierry's 4x4. My senses were overwhelmed by the sights, smells and sounds of this little island off the south coast of France. There was an amazing variety of wildlife as yet undiscovered by the rest of the world. Jewel coloured flies and diminutive, darting birds and multi-hued butterflies. Minute lizards that were visible merely as a streak of green, and tiny mouse-like creatures furtively poking their timid snouts out of a cleverly concealed burrow before venturing outside. The cicadas, which clung to the trees as they rubbed their wings together to make the characteristic, scratching, scraping noise that was unique to them. They looked like grasshoppers or crickets caught in an enlarging ray, only a little shorter and fatter, and more brightly coloured. I took a deep breath through my nose and revelled in the complete absence of the city smog I was used to in London. A brightly-coloured butterfly flitted about my head before settling on a beautiful, tubular bloom the colour of crushed saffron; a deep magenta merging with a daffodil-yellow radiating from the centre. I could smell the flower too: the profound, deep smell of spring. I don't know if you've ever contemplated how flowers smell, but personally, I find it hard to compare their scent with anything else - they have their own distinct, floral smell, and it's quite unique in every aspect. It's not a fruity smell: sweet and yet savoury; gloriously colourful, although sometimes a little bland; wonderfully diverse depending on the species. But whatever the scent, it was all I could smell - filling my nostrils with its splendour. And all I could see was an amazing variety of colour in countless combinations pasted over fauna and flora alike, as though an artist had carefully compiled his palette, then lost control of his brush to some kind of magic. ...read more.


We cruised out of the harbour, and Thierry rammed the throttle as far forward as it would go. The bow lifted clear out of the water and we streaked forward like a cruise missile on steroids. I got out of the forward seat and was immediately replaced by Jean-Christophe. Sitting down be the side rail in the forepeak, I dangled my feet over the side and revelled in the refreshing feel of the cool seawater spraying my legs. We sped a good distance out from shore, before Thierry stopped the boat in the middle of the bay and stripped to his swimming trunks, before catapulting himself over the side and splashing into the sea like a cannonball into mortar. The rest of us followed suit in various styles, making various noises, and at various distances and angles from the boat. Jean-Chris belly flopped and surfaced half a minute later with a roar of pain, whereas Pierre-Marie took a run-up, but tripped over the side rail and plunged in head-first next to the boat. Jean-Mathieu gave vent to a piercing yell and hurled himself to oblivion, only to find he hit the sea instead of a death worthy of martyrdom. I did a penguin impersonation - waddling to the back of the boat and doing a pencil jump off. I broke the surface and sank about ten metres into paradise - crystal clear waters in which it was possible to see for fifty metres, although the bottom was way out of view. The water was devoid of any trace of pollution, and cool enough to be refreshing, but not unpleasantly cold. I looked around for half a minute into the crystalline, aquamarine depths, before surfacing with a gasp as my lungs reabsorbed all the oxygen they'd missed while I was underwater. I swam back to the boat as Thierry took his second dive, and we all went through the process again. After about five turns each, we got back into the boat and towelled ourselves. ...read more.


This time, we re-entered the car like a flock old ladies on shopping day, bent double and devoid of the energy that had fuelled the kids in the sweet shop earlier that day. With a great deal less pace than earlier, we drove to the bakery and bought some fresh bread for lunch, before continuing back to the villa, where we promptly ate the bread we had just bought with the rest of the family. My first, exhausting day in Corsica (out of fourteen) was half over, and I had learnt just one thing: next time I went on Thierry's boat, I'd ask for a cushion. Nb: Corsica has been heavily affected with Italian language and custom throughout its recent history, though it has largely remained under the government of France. It follows that the language of Corsica is a separate dialect of French, and follows many Italian patterns. In this extract, it might be useful for the reader to note that, in pronouncing many Corsican words, if an "o" follows a consonant at the end of a word, it is not spoken. For example: "Propriano" is actually pronounced "Proprian" or with a longer "n" sound, like "Proprianne." However, as with most languages, there are exceptions to this rule, and also a few examples that nearly fall under the rule. For example, one could generalise and say if any vowel follows a consonant at the end of a word, but it is much less likely to be true. Also, if two vowels are grouped at the end of a word, they are pronounced. For example, "Bonifacio" (a beautiful little town set precariously on a cliff edge, the southernmost town in France, with a glorious collection of caves in the cliff-face [one of which has a hole in its roof the shape of Corsica], from where it was possible to see Sardinia - a group of Italian-governed islands to the south) is still pronounced "Bonifacio." *1 fathom � 1.8288 metres. ?? ?? ?? ?? Travel Writing CWK Ms Gandhi English James Graham Page 1/9 11:30:03 AM ; 1/8/2008 ...read more.

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